Blog : Raise a glass to… 35 years of the Morris Ital

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Mike Humble

The Ital ran from 1980 to 1984 in saloon, estate and light commercial form. This is a Longbridge built SLX model.
The Ital ran from 1980 to 1984 in saloon, estate and light commercial form. This is a
Longbridge built SLX model.

If there was ever a car in the Austin Morris line-up that epitomised everything that was crumbling around them, perhaps the Marina and Ital fits admirably. The Ital whined onto the scene way back in 1980 and somewhat added confusion to the recovery-led programme spearheaded with the mighty Mini Metro born in the same year. On one hand the company had a bang up to date ultra-efficient supermini part-assembled in Europe’s most modern plant – Longbridge’s West Works, while on the other you had a luke-warm re-style of the Marina offering as much visual sophistication as a fat lip.

Owing to the delay in the Maestro and Montego coming on stream, the Ital was a quick fix to freshen up the badly-ageing Marina. To be fair, the Ital looked acceptable for 1980 with its modern plastic bumpers and large front and rear lamp clusters. Engines included the updated A-Plus in 1275cc form, which benefitted from a healthy sprinkle of revisions to aid economy and power in the form of a new SU HiF carburettor, thermo-viscous cooling fan and an exhaust that helped the car breath better thanks to a new twin-downpipe manifold.

Other power options were carried over from the Marina, again in revised form with the 1700cc O-Series and a newly offered 2.0-litre model – though the latter was automatic only, as the manual gearbox was not deemed manly enough for the power and torque. Production tolerance tweaks to the manual gearbox were added to refine the famously obstructive gearchange quality and reduce second gear whine and an automatic gearbox continued to be optional on the 1.3 and 1.7 models. Extra sound insulation was fitted which made the Ital a much more relaxing car to cruise in, especially the 1300.

The A plus was developed mainly for the new Metro as seen here. The Ital also used this power unit in RWD format which offered superb 40+mpg motoring.
The A plus was developed mainly for the new Metro as seen here. The Ital also used
this power unit in 1275cc form which offered superb 40+mpg motoring and
acceptable refinement.

Nothing more than some gentle revisions took place on the inside of the car. It remained utterly practical and almost simplistic to own and operate and, despite all of the competition like the Cavalier and Cortina being notably larger, the Ital offered a reasonable amount of space for occupants and luggage. It sold reasonably thanks to its low purchase and servicing costs, nothing under the bonnet was difficult to mend, replace or tinker with. In fact, one friend and former Ital owner told me that you could almost strip down and rebuild an Ital using not much more than a butter knife and a screwdriver.

“…I sold three to a friend of mine who operated a minicab operation at a knock down price. Each one ripped through a pair of gearboxes in two years.”
Derek J Ketteringham – former Neasden BL dealer

Former BL dealer Derek Ketteringham was not a fan of the Ital. We have spoken many times at length over the years and one of the memorable quotes from this unassuming but often outspoken motor trader involved the dear old Ital. He told us: ‘at one point my showroom line up was a right Royal mess consisting of a Metro, an Acclaim, a Rover 3500 and a bloody Morris Ital. I sold three to a friend of mine who operated a minicab operation at a knockdown price. Each one ripped through a pair of gearboxes in two years’. But as a family hack the Ital tended to be pretty dependable and the 1.3 was exceptionally frugal on the juice.

However, rivals were sprinting ahead in terms of aspiration and engineering prowess. The new Cavalier of 1981 now offered front wheel drive and the Sierra came along the following year. So far as technology and style mattered, the Ital was in danger of becoming akin to something like a British Lada. Production moved from Cowley to Longbridge as Austin Rover got plans underway to refit the Oxford plant for Maestro production. Birmingham-built Itals were recognised by a slimming down of the range to just two models – SL and SLX along with the deletion of the poor-selling 2.0 automatic.

These later Itals also gained telescopic front dampers and some geometry tweaks to the suspension but their handling remained, at very best, tolerable. In what was a period of some very confusing models in the Austin Rover range, the Ital wobbled on to 1984 when it was replaced by the very modern Montego saloon. It also holds the title of being the last passenger vehicle to bear the Morris badge.

 

Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications

65 Comments

  1. As I remember, Ital came shortly before Metro in July 1980 with the Metro arriving in the October.

    It was widely known Metro was on its way and Ital seemed to be the first sign that “the beast was stirring”.

    Viewed as a modernised Marina, as opposed to a Cavalier rival, it wasn’t so bad. In HLS spec it even had some visual appeal.

    As I’ve said before on this site, the short lived ‘Company Car’ magazine wrote “…with this car BL are a force….”. Before anyone jokes, they did not write “farce” !!

    • In fairness back then you have to remember if you were lucky enough to get a company car you got what your Fleet Manager gave you. There were no user choosers back then I don’t think. The Fleet Managers tended to buy British ( or at least what they thought was British) Picture the scene in 1980,your default choices would have been Ford Cortina, Morris Marina/Ital, Vauxhall Cavalier or Talbot Solara. Your status would have been identified by model spec L,GL, GLS etc. If you had suggested to your Fleet Manager can I have a poverty spec 3 series rather than a specced up Cortina? I would imagine at best he would have laughed you out of his office, at worst you would have had both feet in your bosses in tray whilst being told to wind your neck in sonny. Fast forward to today and nobody in Britain makes those kind of cars anymore except possibly the Toyota Avensis?. We are also in the age of user choosers so that combined with all the fleet leasing deals right now for what you pay for a Mondeo/ Insignia or having a 3 series /A4/ C Class on your drive, in all honesty what would you rather have?

      • Another reason the Marina/Ital was popular with fleet buyers (and private buyers to some extent) is that it’s weaknesses were well known. This meant you had a good idea what would go wrong and when, spares were available and repairs were straightforward. Just like a Ford !

        So in a typical three year life on the fleet you knew what to budget for and how long it would be off the road when it did need attention.

      • That’s a very good point. If you are buying a new medium sized car today there simply is no need to buy a Ford or Vauxhall anymore, just as there is no need to buy sheets from Brentford Nylons when you can have Egyptian Cotton from Marks & Spencer’s. It is very hard to see just what the future for the likes of Ford, Vauxhall, Renault, Peugeot etc is. The only way they can sell cars at all is by continually cutting price. That helps shift cars to daily rental companies and massive fleet customers like utility companies and Network Rail but has limited impact on attracting “real” customers. Surely the time will come when it simply makes no sense at all to carry on and shareholders call time?

        • Not so sure about that. To me, a 3 series is no longer the exclusive aspiration it once was. It’s essentially a latter day Cortina. Maybe the time will turn and drivers will consider a Mondeo just to be that bit different….

          • Agreed. I’ve said for a log time that a BMW is now just a mass market jalopy like, as you say, the Cortina was years ago. Easy finance makes them available to anyone earning more than minimum wage, and folk are still seduced by clever marketing having them believe there is a degree of exclusivity about owning one.

  2. 35 years since the Ital launched – How time flies. Of course, it was up against more able, newer tech cars like Cavalier/Sierra, which also provided Hatchback options, whereas the Ital was Saloon & Estate only. There never was an Ital Coupe like the Marina had.

    I always thought the re-design of the rear lights for the Ital saloon was its best feature. Never considered buying one though!

    • Yes, the new rear was attractive, surprisingly effective and modern looking. Mind, so too was the front given there were no panel changes. May look a bit bland now, but that was the 80s ‘look’.

  3. That Ital pictured was exactly like mine, though mine had a bit of decay. Back in my youth it was a cheap 2nd hand buy, better than walking or cycling. Served me very well and very practical. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, I remember the Marina launch and the damning magazine reports. Could never understand why BL didn’t adopt the Triumph platform and the slant-4 engine. Would have been a good range from 1600-2000cc and a better drive. Doubt if development would have taken much more time or money, in fact it could well have saved money. Would have loved the coupe to have had a rear hatch too.

    • The ADO28 Marina was only ever intended to be a stop-gap. The plan was to have an entirely new platform – ADO77 – that would be the basis for a complete new range of cars for Austin, Morris, Triumph, and MG.

      Unfortunately, the massive costs of SD1 and it’s failure in the market, meant that there was simply no money left. This meant that ADO77 was cancelled. The consequence was that we didn’t get a new midsize volume product until Maestro and Montego. On top of which, Triumph saloons had to die (mostly due to crash regulation changes), and MG went the same way.

      • The original plan was to give the Marina a heavy restyle with new front and rear ends in 73/74. With the Ado77 coming along in 76 as properly engineered Cortina being sold as a Morris.

        The new mid size Triumph was the SD2 which was a baby SD1, smaller but premium. Sitting in the Market the way the Montego /Rover 200 did.

        However cash shortages meant that the Marina facelift dropped the facelift bit and became the Marina Mk2.

        The the Ryder plan combined the ADO77 and SD2, however the cost over runs of the SD1, failure of Allegro, Princess and SD1 to gain traction in the market and ongoing problems with industrial action and productivity meant that investment in new products stopped.

  4. My first van was an old white Ital. I remember changing the clattering propshaft by the simple method of removing the battery, then rolling the whole vehicle onto its side on some strategically-placed old motorbike tyres. Propped at this undignified angle by a length of timber or two, it was a doddle to fit the replacement propshaft (second-hand, of course). It wore the black rings left by the tyres down its side for the rest of its (short) life.

  5. Any reason why the dampers were changed in 1982, so late in its life, rather than in 1980 when the Ital was launched? If they had done it then, the (slightly) better handling might have generated slightly more enthusiastic reviews in the press!

  6. The car has the look of a Volvo and the Mk IV and V Cortina.

    The original lever dampers, were they maintainable in that you could top-up or change the damping oil, or were they “sealed for life”?

  7. Personally i prefer the look of the Marina, it was more individual than the Ital, which was more copycat to other brands from a front point of view.

  8. The Ital received a complete new rear end, wings, valance, boot lid etc, apparently the pressings were so worn out BL had no choice. It also allowed the new trendy rear tail lights to be fitted.
    There was a little more strengthening in the boot area, a remote clutch bleed point and a host of other little improvements as well as parabolic rear springs on the last models which actually handled better in many respects than the cooking Mk2 Escort models.

    Shame that had been dead for two years…

  9. Just looking at the Ital from a purely business point of view – for an investment of a paltry £5m, the model range was kept in the top ten UK sellers for an extra couple of years or so. Ford spent at least ten times that achieving a similar maintenance of Cortina’s market position. Ital was an extremely cost-effective project, and that was really the name of the BL game then.
    Regarding the change to the front dampers it was probably to do with the fact that production volumes of lever arm dampers had fallen so much in the 1970s that the unit costs were going up too much – telescopics were ten a penny. Yes, a pity it wasn’t done in 1971, but it was supposed to be a carry-over Morris Minor platform, as suggested by Harry Webster (RIP), even if virtually nothing of the Minor survived the development process.

    • I doubt there was that good a return on the 5m, the issue was keeping a place in that market sector with what they had, the Ital.

      With only the UK market interested in this car it was a matter of shifting the volume to hit the minimal viable production volumes, which meant big discounts at dealers and to fleets. I recall a lot being pushed out through the manager leasing scheme at BL to help shift metal at the time.

      The end result was that it was in the top ten UK car sales chart because that was a production necessity rather than a market success.

  10. I cant help it but to me this car keeps looking like one of those USSR cars. To me it could have been a Volga or a Scaldia for that matter…

    One of the less appealing BL cars…

  11. Didn’t one hack offer the immortal quote that the ‘new’ Ital was akin to combing the toupe on a corpse?

    Loved the launch ad though as it powered past (if memory serves) a Saab 900

  12. There’s a bit more to the Ital than I realised, in some ways it would have been better if launched earlier (1975 or 8) but for BL’s financial woes.

  13. Marina was well past its sell by date by 1980, although they did try to keep the marina fresh with 2 revisions, 1975 mark 2 and 1978 mark 3. As someone already as said ital did not look too bad in 1980 against the opposition and by then it was cheap, pretty reliable and easy to maintain.
    I had a couple of them in the early 90 s used as workhorses. They were reliable and dependable for peanut purchase price and running.costs
    Have t seen one on the road for years, there can t be many left now.

  14. Had the pleasure(?) of a Marina 2 1.3 estate in Brooklands Green as the family car when I first started driving.
    Parents took it to Ireland in early 80’s and it stood out as a little unusual as the Irish had already voted on BL cars and were buying anything else!
    Worked at a BL dealer over there when Maestro launched. Total disinterest.
    The Marina soldiered on to Late 80’s in the family despite various failures including a replacement engine,gearbox linkages, front suspension and plating the the front footwells where it rotted out in less than 8 years.
    Still miss it. Was my first wheels.

  15. Rather better than people realised at the time and quite a good, unpretentious family car that sold reasonably well and was easy to maintain and cheap to run.
    Contrast this with some of the high priced BMW rubbish that we’re all supposed to aspire to these days and which in many cases I’ve heard of that are lethal in the wet( the Ital was rwd but had far less power to handle), have electrics that are a nightmare to fix and interiors that leak in water. However, because they have the right badge, they seem OK to a lot of people.

    • Glenn your comments about the modern BMW disappoint me as you tend to be more on the moderate side to make such a sweeping statement. I’m too young to have driven Marinas and Itals (though my mother insists the worst car she has ever driven was a Marina and she had all sorts of BL cars in the 70’s) but remain a huge fan of the original Metro (my friend’s first car at 17 and it was great fun) then subsequently the Rover 25 of which I had a number of as hire cars in the early 2000’s and always hankered over a MG ZR in trophy blue. I currently run a 118d SE and can tell you that the handling is far superior in the rain than the Citroen DS3 I had previously. I have now owned 6 cars since I bought my first one at 22 and the BMW is only the second non PSA vehicle (the other was a facelifted mk1 Focus) and can tell you that the Beemer is by far the best screwed together.

    • It was never good, it was poor by the standards of 1971 let alone 1980 despite half-hearted attempt to warm it up.

      There were plenty of alternatives to BMW then as there are now, but the product they were shifting in 1980 and since has all been light years ahead in ownership experience than the Ital, which is why they are where they are and Morris is just a memory of which the Ital was the last very sorry chapter.

      • Though the Morris Marina / Ital was poor by the standards of the 70s/early-80s, always wondered how would it have fared had it (or some early iteration) been produced in the 60s as a rival to the mk1/2 Ford Cortina?

        • It’s a good point Nate.

          One of the drivers behind the Marina was the BMC dealers complaints that why BMC could not do something along the lines of Roots had done to create the Arrow (Hillman Hunter etc) to take on Ford.

          However had BMC decided in the late 50’s to evolve rather that innovate, whilst I think they would have produced some rather worthy cars (think 60’s Peugeots), having appealing product that both the customer wanted and did not eat profits in warranty claims (as with the ADO16) was only half the equation. The other half of the Ford equation (as Roots were to fail to deliver with the Arrow and Avenger) was the ability to produce the car at the right price and in the right numbers, simply fact was that the management controls, industrial relations, available cash for investment and even geography at BMC plants did not exist to do that.

          The poor state of control the management had over the manufacturing part of the business can be seen in such decisions made by Leyland to utilise the B series tooling for O series engine so badly compromising its architecture, despite the fact that this tooling was already unserviceable and needed replacing.

        • If it had been launched in the ’60s I think it would have been seen as the reclothed Wolseley 1500 (a ten year old design and itself still mostly 1948 Morris Minor underneath) so it would still have seemed fairly old-fashioned… just less so than in the ’70s or ’80s.

          • Still would be a better alternative than the BMC Farina B models and if well executed might have allowed BMC to make a profit by having an earlier Marina slot above ADO16 1100/1300 yet below ADO17 1800.

            Especially if the earlier Marina featured 1300-1600cc or even 1300-2000cc engines, the former including a properly developed 1.6 B-Series Twin-Cam range-topper with the latter featuring a properly uprated mid-range 1.6 unit in between the 1300cc A-Series and 2000cc B-Series engines.

  16. I do recall the 1.3 SL Ital selling for £ 3995 in 1982, about £ 600 less than the comparable basic Ford Sierra 1.3, which was a motorised slug and the heavy body meant economy was poor. For your four grand or so, you bought a car with a radio, clock, cigar lighter and cloth seats, a decent equipment level for the time( the Sierra didn’t have a radio) and with an improved A plus engine meant an average of 40 mpg and top speed of 93 mph, considered very good for 1982. Also reasonable reliability, cheap and simple servicing and acceptable refinement for a 1.3 meant the Ital continued to sell in decent numbers until it was scrapped in 1984.

    • I think for £600 less an Ital 1.3SL, in 1982, could have been an all round better bet than an asthmatic 1.3 base Sierra.

    • Only £600 more for a larger, modern hatchback with a brand new platform over a 1948 based, 1971 designed car that was rubbish when first launched. Sounds like a bargain to me, even if I did have to stump another tenner for a MW/LW push button radio!

  17. The A Series in the Ital was upgraded to A+ spec, making it the only vehicle which used the RWD A+.
    The Ital made the company money and was able to continue until 1984 profitably mainly on the back of Van sales to BT, British Gas and the Post Office. Infact the Ital and Allegro 3 made BL money, even with the industrial actions taking place at the time and while long past their prime allowed the company to become enough of a viable proposition for the Government to look at investing in. Let us not forget the US market was not very profitable for UK companies during the early 1980s due to the exchange rate, one casulty being the TR7 and MG had died just before that too.
    The Metro was selling well (albeit with small profit margins on some models) but the Ital (and Allegro 3) produced a steady income that kept the whole thing going (just about).

  18. @ Dave Dawson, I agree, also the Sierra underneath was just a rehashed Cortina and in 1.3 base form for £ 4500 only had two doors and the only luxuries were a lighter and a rear demister( considered essential by 1982). The Ital in 1.3 form due to some improvements in carburation and refinement was a far better bet than a 1.3 Marina, which was sluggish and quite noisy at speed, and also boasted one of the best fuel economy figures in its class.

    • Completely wrong. Pinto engine apart the Sierra shared nothing with the Cortina. The Cortina from MK3 onwards had wishbone front end and coil sprung live rear. The Sierra had a completely new platform with independent suspension all round with Struts up front.

      • Interesting. I always thought the Sierra shared more with the Cortina. I must be remembering press comments about it retaining rear wheel drive.

        Still reckon, though, that an Ital 1.3 could have been a better bet for some than a 1.3 Sierra. As a works car, my Dad got a 1.6L Sierra and even that was a bit of a slug.

    • The 1.3 Cavalier Mk2 blew both off the road, although you were pretty unemployable in the early 80’s if your package did not run to the 90hp 1.6L

  19. @ Dave Dawson, the Sierra carried over the same engines from the Cortina, but as Paul points out, the suspension was totally redesigned to make the ride more comfortable. Forgotten about that, but I was 14 when the Sierra came out and a bit like the New Romantic era it arrived in, rather a long time ago.

    Yet I think the Ital was a real step forward for such a small budget and a company people were writing off as heading to oblivion. You now had in 1.3 litre form a refined, economical and reasonably fast family car with a huge boot that undercut its rivals on price and also had a 12,000 mile servicing interval, when this was almost unheard of.

    • 14 years old when the Sierra came out, aye, Glenn. That makes us more or less the same age – I would have turned 14 years in the October of 1982.

  20. @ Dave Dawson, 1982 was the year the British car industry seemed to become more confident after a terrible period in the seventies. British Leyland seemed to be fighting back with the Metro, Acclaim, improved Rover SD1 and Jaguar, Ford had launched the Sierra, and Vauxhall was undergoing a huge revival with the Mark 2 Cavalier and Astra. I know some of the Fords and Vauxhalls would have been imported, but it did seem the industry was turning the corner and strikes and uncompetitive products were on the way out. Even something like putting an MG badge on a Metro then was seen as a huge leap forward, even if it was merely a faster version of a Metro 1.3 S and not a revival of the MGB. Yet after years of bad news and some really awful cars, people who wanted the British car industry to succeed felt optimistic.

  21. I simply don’t get why the Marina and the Ital were so bobbins at going around corners.

    Most people put it all down to the employment of Minor-type front suspension.

    Except nobody complained about the Minor’s handling – quite the reverse.

    Then folk say that the car’s Minor type front suspension couldn’t cope with the weight of the B-series engine, conveniently ignoring the Minor-based B-series engined Wolseley 1500/Riley 1.5/Morris Major/Austin Lancer (the Mk2 version of which BMC Australia considered the best car they ever made.)

    By 1971 they had over two decades of experience with torsion bar suspension so how the hell did they get it so cataclysmically wrong?

    • The ADO28 lacked front and rear anti roll bars for a start until the Marina 2, the late face lifted Mk1 cars had holes in the shell for them but never received the upgrade.
      The other issue was that the ADO28 was designed for the US market, UK cars and US cars had exactly the same spring rates to keep costs down, which resulted in British models being too soft at the rear. Coupled with the initial incorrect front geometry on early cars and the result was a car with serious under steering tendencies!

  22. I owned a 1983 Ital 1.3 SL as my first car. I abused it mercilessly and it was nigh on unkillable. Trust me, the 1.3 A plus made for a far superior car to a sierra or cortina 1.3. Faster and much more economical, on a gentle motorway run the ital was in the 40s mpg. Mine was a 7 year old Ex fleet car when I owned it. It was on 115000 miles and had just had a rebore to stop the oil burning. I used it for another 4 years before part ex ing it for a mk2 cavalier.
    I have nothing but respect for them based on my experience. I also fitted the front telescopic shocks from a 1.7 ital estate to mine which meant it even handled a little bit.

  23. @ OL, they were far more reliable cars than people thought and looked far more modern and were better to drive than the Marina. My German teacher owned two and always praised them for their low running costs, reliability and ease of maintenance. He could quite easily could have bought a Volkswagen, as he always praised German efficiency and engineering, but said apart from the Ital being British, it was cheaper to buy and maintain and the reliability was nearly as good.

  24. I had a 1.3L Ital as a company car after blowing up a mk2 Escort. It was much more roomy and modern inside but leaked like a sieve such the drivers footwell was a paddling pool when it rained. The handling was atrocious, couldn’t even keep up with a Skoda Estelle on the twisty bits. Came out of the company car scheme ASAP and bought a VW Golf.

  25. Lots of enthusiasm and defensive comments about the ITAL here, which makes good reading. I was 27 in 1982 and the appearance of the Sierra caused quite a stir compared to traditional looking cars like the Cavalier, Ital, Datsun Bluebird’s etc.

    Judging by the images of ADO77 shown on this site makes me think that would have been a good way to go for BL back then.

  26. The ADO28 lacked front and rear anti roll bars for a start until the Marina 2, the late face lifted Mk1 cars had holes in the shell for them but never received the upgrade.
    The other issue was that the ADO28 was designed for the US market, UK cars and US cars had exactly the same spring rates to keep costs down, which resulted in British models being too soft at the rear. Coupled with the initial incorrect front geometry on early cars and the result was a car with serious under steering tendencies!

  27. I still own a Marina 1.8 and you are certainly right! However it remains a relaxing car to drive in other respects and so I hold onto it.

  28. As an American, I’ll admit that I have not seen an Ital in person, but everything below the beltline reminds me so much of the Volvo 240. Look at how it slightly shoulders in to meet the windows, the door handles are above the moulding but the keyhole below, and slab sides. I’m sure that Austin/Rover would’ve loved for people to equate the two.

    • Facelift of the car that was called the Austin Marina in the US.

      From the belt and windowline it looked ever so vaguely like a US market late 70s Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan.

  29. The Volvo 240 was in effect a 140 with a major facelift, & a few other tweaks over the years, so there’s that similarity.

    Also both estates needed some bodging to use the saloon’s rear doors.

  30. I can vouch that 1984 model Marinas had utterly atrocious handling. My dad had one. It was cheap but quite reliable although the gearbox was not the easiest to select. One of my friends owned a 1.7 Ital estate. He liked it because it was spacious, nippy and generally reliable, although he did admit that the handling was somewhat suspect, especially in the wet.

    The thing that always got me about the Ital was the ridiculous positioning of the radio facing towards the passenger. Who in their right minds would use that as a design feature?

    The company I worked for had a fleet of Mk2 Cavaliers, I drove several, and can definitely say I would much rather have a Cav than an Ital any day, absolutely no contest.

    • The oddly placed radio came in with the Marina 2 (ADO73) rather than the Ital. The odd position was to allow the centre part of the mould tool to be used on both RHD and LHD cars. We simply didn’t have the money to have two centre section mould tools.

  31. @ Tony Evans, never got the positioning of the radio, unless it was some health and safety thing to stop the driver twiddling around with the radio too much? Could be a bit irritating, though, and you’d probably need to work out which push button was tuned to which station to avoid having to lean over too much at speed. However, this wasn’t the DAB era with 60 stations, and most places only had five stations.

  32. Actually, as there were so few stations in the early 80s( some parts of the country only had four BBC national stations), people tended to stay with the same radio station all the time due to lack of choice. If you were a Radio 4 listener, you kept the radio on 1500 m LW and never had to worry about changing the station, in the same way Radio 1 had two wavelengths that were so close together, a slight flick of the dial meant you could switch easily between transmitters without leaning across the Ital’s dashboard.
    Of course, there was always the passenger to do all this for you as the radio was positioned in favour of the passenfer.

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